France: Nurses' helplessness in the face of daily violence

Five days after the murder of a nurse by a man with psychiatric disorders in Reims, northeastern France, a report by the Council of the Order of Nurses highlights that two-thirds of nurses have been victims of aggression in their professional lives. Almost daily verbal and physical aggression.

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A nurse at a clinic near Toulouse in southern France in 2020 (illustration image). © LIONEL BONAVENTURE / AFP

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When asked if he feels safe in the hospital, Pierre, a nurse for 11 years at Beaujon Hospital near Paris, is categorical: "No, no. But I know it. For a very long time, we were led to believe that we were safe, that we had armored doors and company. The day a guy arrives and blows up the armored door, you understand that you are absolutely not safe.


Two out of three nurses assaulted, it seems to him little, because in his department where he works at night, assaults are daily. "At the level of my department, I think that all the professionals in my department are already assaulted at least once," he says.

Lack of resources

Aggressions related to the pathologies of some patients, alcoholic people or simply exasperated to wait too long. Pierre has already filed a complaint once in his career, but this remains an exception: "After twelve hours of work, very few professionals will file a complaint because they are insulted. We are not going to spend three hours complaining about this, so that there is generally no opportunity.


What is lacking are resources. In the hospital as in the psychiatric wards, "to avoid violence, you need staff and you need beds," insists the nurse. And very clearly, it is clear that since 2019, we have fewer staff, fewer beds and we have a rather incredible increase in violence. With the Collectif Inter Urgences, he is putting pressure on the authorities to demand these additional resources. Because the first victims of this situation are the patients, recalls Pierre.

Also listen: Guest France - Incidents and violence against caregivers: "We are in a very negative dynamic"

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